Wildcat Road Trip: San Francisco

Wildcat Road Trip: San Francisco

Alan Fullmer

San Francisco is a tourist’s dream, and San Francisco knows it. Tourist traps like Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz attract millions of out-of-towners each year.

So what can you do to avoid being the camera-around-the-neck Joe buying clam chowder and calling the place “”San Fran?”” Find something else to do.

I must admit I did visit Alcatraz; it’s overrated as an attraction. Watch “”The Rock””; it’s better than traveling across the bay getting sprayed with freezing water. I also went to Fisherman’s Wharf, but only to eat at the Boudin Bakery, the original sourdough creator … sort of. But it is real sourdough bread. The original recipe combined with the unique bay air makes for incredible taste. You can order bread online and have it shipped cross country, but it’s not the same.

Twelve miles north of the city is Muir Woods, a protected habitat of redwood trees climbing up as much as 280 feet and as old as a millennium. The temperature is a cool 70-something most of the year under the canopy. Visitors can walk along the boardwalk for over a mile and take side trails to go higher and farther. This is a utopia literally on the borders of the city.

I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third Street. Highly recommended for fans of the more abstract. There you can see some wild ideas of art, including Richard Tuttle, whose work of pieces of wire protruding from a wall in all directions seems to be considered art. Judge for yourself.

One of the best experiences I had was to just take in the city, not to mention the Pacific Ocean. I sat for nearly an hour just watching and listening to the waves crash on the rocks outside the ruins of the Sutro Baths. The baths require an imagination to really understand. All they are now is a pile of rubble on the coast, a pitiful reminder of an engineering marvel from the beginning of the 20th century. It was once a huge public pool, with seven different pools of fresh and saltwater, almost all indoors.

The mind-bending steepness of the hills made me all glad that I was traveling by automatic transmission. To see the way the unique houses are squeezed together at scary angles is fantastic. The architecture and the colors must be seen to really feel. There is just no other city in this country that compares.

Visit it at least once. It’s only about 14 hours from Tucson. Driving through the wind farms, all 100 (and then some) miles of Los Angeles, the countless farms, the open trucks full of food that you might eat later, it all becomes worth it once you reach that South Bay. Yes, the drive sucks, but it’s all worth it.